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Greta Thunberg thanks Opec chief for complaining about ‘threat’ of climate activists

Fossil fuel industry leader worries about ‘mass mobilisation of world opinion against oil’ 

Emma Snaith
Friday 05 July 2019 21:33 BST
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg tells Extinction Rebellion supporters 'humanity is at a crossroads'

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg has welcomed criticism from a fossil fuel industry chief that environment campaigners pose “perhaps the greatest threat” to the oil sector.

The 16-year-old founder of the “School Strike 4 Climate’ movement described the comments made by the leader the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) as their “biggest compliment yet”.

It comes after energy ministers from 13 of the world’s most powerful oil-producing nations met in Austria to thrash out a deal restricting the amount of oil flowing into the global market to boost demand.

Speaking after the meeting earlier this week, general secretary Mohammed Barkindo said that “there is a growing mass mobilisation of world opinion… against oil”.

He said: “Civil society is being misled to believe oil is the cause of climate change.”

Mr Barkindo complained of “unscientific” attacks on the oil industry by climate change campaigners, describing them as “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward”.

He said the children of some colleagues at Opec’s headquarters ”are asking us about their future because … they see their peers on the streets campaigning against this industry”.

His comments appeared to be in reference to Ms Thunberg’s school strike movement, which began after the teenage activist started skipping classes to protest outside the Swedish parliament.

Her protest inspired millions of other children around the world to walk out school on Fridays to demand greater action on climate change.

Mr Barkindo added that the changing attitudes towards fossil fuels were ”beginning to ... dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry”.

In response to Mr Barkindo’s comments, Ms Thunberg tweeted: “OPEC calls the school strike movement and climate campaigners their ‘greatest threat’.

“Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!”

Bill McKibben, the founder of the climate group which calls for 100 per cent renewable energy, also welcomed Mr Barkindo’s comments.

He tweeted: “Wow! Wow! Wow! ...Thanks everyone for your good work!”

The Opec chief’s comments come nearly a year after the UN released its landmark IPCC report that found we have 11 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C to limit the worst effects of climate change.

Since then, the Extinction Rebellion movement brought parts of London to a standstill in April to demand action on climate change. And MPs voted to declare a climate emergency in May.

In the US, Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez submitted her Green New Deal proposal to the US House of Representatives in February. The deal, which calls for the achievement of “net-zero” greenhouse gases within a decade and “a full transition off fossil fuels, has received the backing of Democratic presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Opec is an intergovernmental organisation made up of 13 nations which seeks to coordinate oil prices to stabilise the market. Among its member nations are Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria.

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